Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the situation in Ethiopia

©European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service©European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service

After one year of fighting, the conflict in northern Ethiopia has further worsened and expanded, creating a devastating humanitarian crisis, undermining the territorial integrity and stability of the country and impacting the whole region. The EU is particularly worried about the recent escalation of fighting in the Amhara region and the military advances of the TPLF and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), as well as aerial bombardment by the Ethiopian Airforce of Mekelle, all of which risk dragging the country further into fragmentation and widespread armed conflict and worsening the situation of the population.

The EU reiterates that there is no military solution and calls on all parties to the conflict to implement a meaningful ceasefire with immediate effect and engage in political negotiations without pre-conditions, showing responsibility and political leadership. The EU reiterates its call for the full and immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia’s territory.

In Tigray, violence has forced close to 3 million people to flee their homes and more than 5 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. In the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara, an additional 1.5 million people are estimated to be in need of emergency assistance. Immediate action is needed to ensure full, continuous and predictable access of humanitarian aid into all territories in need of assistance to avert a large-scale famine and relieve the suffering of the local population and IDPs. All parties to the conflict must fully respect International Humanitarian Law, including protection of civilians and humanitarian workers.

The EU welcomes the publication of the joint OHCHR and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on 3 November. The EU also welcomes the statement by High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, following the report’s publication, on the impact of the armed conflict until June 2021. As illustrated by the OHCHR/EHRC report, as well as the High Commissioner’s statement, ethnic violence, torture and ill-treatment of civilians and captured combatants, sexual and gender-based violence including rape, looting of property, destruction of infrastructure and religious sites, violations of international humanitarian law as well as other human rights violations and abuses, must stop immediately. Some of these violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Perpetrators must be held accountable in an independent, transparent and impartial manner. Inquiries on atrocities committed after June 2021 must continue to ensure accountability and justice for victims and survivors. The EU asks for swift and full implementation of the recommendations of the joint report.

The EU supports regional and African Union mediation efforts, led by Special Representative Obasanjo, trusting that these will deliver peace. The EU further underlines the importance of launching an Ethiopian-led inclusive national dialogue, within the framework of the Ethiopian Constitution, in order to promote reconciliation.

Ethiopia is a long-term partner for the EU and we stand with its people in support of peace, justice, and prosperity. The EU supports the stability, unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. The EU remains ready to use all its foreign policy tools, including restrictive measures, to promote peace, adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law, and help end conflict.